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Civic Culture and Economic Transition in Russia

In this paper we try to describe the main feature of Russian civic culture that could influence the outcome of the reform, initiated in 1992, and discuss channels through which the influence was realized. We begin with consideration of paternalism and what we call “habitual deviationism”, ordinary and routine deviation from official rules and laws. Both features were inherited from the Soviet period. Paternalism and habitual deviationism determine a system of people’s attitudes towards the state, the law, the property, and the liberal values. It will be demonstrated that this system entails an adversarial (using a Stiglitz’s term) style of governance and the opportunism and corruptibility of the ruling elite. It is argued that “shock therapy” may be destructive under this cultural environment and result in strong initial distortions since fast liberalization and privatization release a huge volume of rent and strengthen incentives for rent seeking activity. It is further argued that a good reform strategy should take civic culture into account and not put forward overly ambitious tasks. One has to build a sequence of interim institutions which would be more congruent to the initial cultural and institutional environment, facilitate the adaptation of the people, and stimulate modernization of cultural norms to reach an effective market system with time.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 20068.

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Date of creation: 2000
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:20068
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  1. Polterovich, Victor, 2007. "Institutional Trap," MPRA Paper 20595, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Shleifer, Andrei, 1997. "Government in transition," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(3-5), pages 385-410, April.
  3. Hanming Fang, 2001. "Social Culture and Economic Performance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 924-937, September.
  4. Houben, Vincent, 1999. "Economic crisis and the culture of reform in Southeast Asia," European Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(04), pages 487-496, October.
  5. Cazes, Bernard, 1990. "Indicative planning in France," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 607-620, December.
  6. Susan J. Linz, 1998. "Job Rights in Russian Firms: Endangered or Extinct Institution?," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 128, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  7. de Melo, Martha & Denizer, Cevdet & Gelb, Alan, 1996. "From plan to market : patterns of transition," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1564, The World Bank.
  8. David D. Li, 1998. "Changing Incentives of the Chinese Bureaucracy," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 130, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  9. Olson, Mancur, Jr & Sarna, Naveen & Swamy, Anand V, 2000. " Governance and Growth: A Simple Hypothesis Explaining Cross-Country Differences in Productivity Growth," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 102(3-4), pages 341-64, March.
  10. Casson Mark, 1993. "Cultural Determinants of Economic Performance," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 418-442, June.
  11. de Melo, Martha & Denizer, Cevdet & Gelb, Alan & Tenev, Stoyan, 1997. "Circumstance and choice : the role of initial conditions and policies in transition economies," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1866, The World Bank.
  12. Li, David D, 1998. "Changing Incentives of the Chinese Bureaucracy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 393-97, May.
  13. Simon Johnson & Daniel Kaufman & Andrei Shleifer, 1997. "The Unofficial Economy in Transition," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 28(2), pages 159-240.
  14. Hillman, Arye L. & Ursprung, Heinrich W., 2000. "Political culture and economic decline," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 189-213, June.
  15. Derek C Jones, 1998. "The Economic Effects of Privatization: Evidence from a Russian Panel," Comparative Economic Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 40(2), pages 75-102, July.
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